An artist’s sketch depicts Gabriel Klein in court during his fitness hearing on April 19 at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (Sketch by Sheila Allan)

Man charged in Abbotsford school stabbing found unfit to stand trial

Gabriel Klein’s fitness to stand trial will be subject to periodic review

Accused killer Gabriel Klein has been found unfit to stand trial.

Justice Heather Holmes rendered her decision Friday morning in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.

She said that although Klein, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, has moments of mental stability, there are times when his condition worsens, and it’s difficult to predict when this will occur.

The decision follows a two-day hearing, where evidence and lawyers’ submissions were presented to determine whether Klein’s mental health issues would inhibit his ability to follow the proceedings and/or communicate adequately with his lawyer.

The decision means that Klein, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, will remain at the Colony Farm Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, where he has currently been housed since August 2017.

The next step in the process is that the B.C. Review Board must hold a hearing within 90 days and review the court decision.

If Klein is still found to be “unfit to stand trial,” he remains at the psychiatric hospital, and a hearing must be held at least once every two years to see if there have been any changes.

He could return to court for trial in the future, if these periodic assessments of his condition determine that his mental-health issues have improved.

Speaking to reporters following Friday’s court proceedings, one of Klein’s lawyers, Martin Peters said he’s not confident his client will ever stand trial. He said it’s possible he could be found permanently unfit to stand trial, in which case the charges would be stayed.

Peters said that jusitice is being served in the case, because it would be unjust to proceed to trial while Klein is unable to participate.

“So is justice being done? Yes it is being done because that’s what parliament has said that’s how it should work.”

Earlier this week, Dr. Marcel Hediger, a forensic psychiatrist who has been treating Klein at Colony Farm, testified that Klein is schizophrenic, “intensely paranoid,” hears voices on a daily basis, suffers from “disorganized thinking” and experiences hallucinations.

He said Klein’s psychosis has worsened in the last week or two.

Hediger testified that Klein was placed in seclusion last week after he said that voices were telling him to rape and harm another patient.

Klein also believes that he is being monitored by the CIA, including through security cameras in his hospital unit, Hediger said.

Hediger also testified that although Klein has lucid moments and understands the court proceedings, it’s difficult to predict when his condition could flare up and make it difficult for him to stay focused.

His behaviour could also pose a risk to those in the courtroom, Hediger said.

The doctor said Klein is currently on a new medication regimen, but it could take up to six weeks for his body to adapt and for his mental-health issues to stabilize.

Klein is charged with second-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of 13-year-old Letisha Reimer at Abbotsford Senior Secondary on Nov. 1, 2016. He is also charged with the aggravated assault of Reimer’s friend (who cannot be named due to a publication ban), who was 14 at the time of the attack.

Klein was scheduled to go to trial May 7, but the fitness hearing was held after his lawyer drew attention to his client’s worrisome mental state.

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